09 November 2012

Stunned horses and silenced starlings

The first two of TBs horses have made the journey to their winter quarters, Titian (him of the dodgy feet) and his companion, Robbie the naughty little pony, walked from Green End to Iburndale last weekend; they have to walk because Titian will not get in a box or a stable or even a field shelter come to that, poor boy has dreadful claustrophobia. Being Titian it wasn't without incident. Last year's floods damaged the causeway on the ford, not enough to warrant repair but enough to pit the underlying concrete and in some places the water swirls.  After last week's heavy rain the ford was slightly higher than usual and running a fair bit faster than they were all used to; one of the pitted areas had quite a large swirling whirlpool which was stirring up the silt at the bottom and was very different visually from the rest of the river.  Titan took one look at the muddy funnel and said "I'm not going near that, it's scary" and started sashaying sideways; despite lots of encouragement he was not for moving and in his wandering managed to step backwards off the causeway into the river sitting down on his hindquarters with such a look of astonishment on his face, tipped backwards his front hooves came off the ground and he sat like a begging dog.  Finally the cold water percolated his brain and he struggled upright before being led carefully across the rocky river bed to the bank where he hauled himself out and stood stunned.  Unfortunately the nearer bank was the point of origin and the river still had to be crossed.  This time Robbie went first followed by TB and Titian with some trepidation, however, the shock of the unintended dunking seemed enough to make the previously terrifying whirlpool invisible and the rest of the journey passed without incident.  Fortunately no permanent damage was incurred by horse or owner, although Titian did have a hot leg for a few days, obviously bruised on the submerged rocks.  We all have our fingers crossed the remaining three arrive in Iburndale (via horsebox) this weekend without any further calamity.
Other than horse movements it's been a busy week but without seeming to achieve much, however for the first time in a long time my accounts box is actually empty and AW completed her first solo Professional edition. For me and my canines this week is the first since late June we have not set foot in a vets surgery for any reason, which although very welcome actually feels rather strange!
Earlier this week on our morning walk I passed two large ash trees which have already shed their leaves (no sign of chalara, phew) and on the tip of each branch was a starling, 50+ birds decorating both trees and chattering to each other.  Silhouetted against the clear blue morning sky they made a wonderful sight, but even more memorable was that at some signal every bird stopped 'talking' it was just as if someone had pressed the mute button. They stayed on their perches in silence for several minutes, by the time we had rounded the corner they were chattering again.
This week's Weekly edition has gone to press, 13 pages this week, again with lots of news on ash dieback.  There are details of 7 volunteer vacancies as well as 33 paid posts of which 23 came direct to CJS.